We’re Divorcing: Can Our Children Be Included In Mediation?
Photo by Ashton Bingham on Unsplash
When parents’ divorce, children are understandably anxious about what the future holds for them.
Their concerns focus on where they will live and go to school - and if they will continue to see both parents, their grandparents, friends, and family pets.
The impact of divorce on children can be disruptive, stressful, and long-lasting - which is why putting their best interests at the heart of a relationship break down is critical.
Children can have a voice in these situations by being involved in their parents’ mediation process. Their participation gives them an opportunity to express their feelings openly and be involved in plans going forward.
Provided both parents and the children agree, the children will have their own meeting with the mediator where they are encouraged to talk about their perspectives on how their family is changing.
The session is confidential, but children can choose to ask the mediator to feedback specific messages to their parents.
The mediator will make it clear that the children will not be asked to make choices or decisions about their personal situations. However, children often will provide valuable insights which parents can then consider when making decisions which have an impact on their children’s lives.
Even if children choose not to ask the mediator to pass anything on to parents, there is a wealth of research which highlights that these conversations are valuable for children’s mental health.
Child-inclusive mediation is a vital platform for children to speak from the heart during a time of upheaval. It also helps parents to agree practical, legal, and financial solutions with their children’s best interests at heart.
Nicki Mitchell is a Partner at Jones Myers family law firm.